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Shell has been stalking the Libyans ever since relations thawed

Malcolm Brinded, Royal Dutch Shell Executive director of Upstream International

By John Donovan

In view of current events, it is timely to consider the real motives of the UK government’s complicity in the release of the Lockerbie bomber – a development said to be “casting a long shadow over relations between Britain and United States, where senior figures in the Obama Administration have voiced dismay over the Government’s failure to take a stand.”

The White House condemned the decision by Scottish authorities to release al-Megrahi as “outrageous and disgusting”. A senior US official said: “The UK has been extraordinarily silent on this issue.”

The compilation of articles printed below provide the answer to why Blair, Brown, and Brinded, have sucked up to the Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi ultimately responsible for the Pan-Am 103 bombing and other terrorist atrocities. They include the murder of a British police constable Yvonne Fletcher shot outside the Libyan Embassy in London while policing an anti-Gaddafi demonstration. A burst of machine-gun fire from within the building was suspected of killing her, but Libyan diplomats asserted their diplomatic immunity and were repatriated. The incident led to the breaking off of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Libya for over a decade. (paragraph includes extracts from Wikipedia article)

The motive for the current duplicity and hypocrisy is the same as for the invasion of Iraq: Oil and Gas.


Scotland On Sunday: 28 March 2004

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“Shell has been stalking the Libyans ever since relations thawed”


IT was only lunchtime but the whisky and gin were flowing from the British Embassy in Tripoli last Thursday. Fresh camels’ milk and water had been on offer outside Colonel Gaddafi’s tent, and the returning diplomats went straight for something stronger.

The mood was of mild but universal shock. Even those who had for weeks recited the political rationale of the meeting found themselves stunned at the sight of a British prime minister lunching with one of the world’s most notorious dictators.

Tony Blair called it extending the “hand of partnership”. For one embassy guest, this was more than a soundbite: Malcolm Brinded, Royal Dutch/Shell’s head of exploration, had just signed a £110m deal to hunt for gas off Libya’s coast.

Britain’s diplomatic invasion of Libya last week was a superbly orchestrated coup which has stolen a march on America. In the 15 weeks since Gaddafi agreed to surrender his nuclear and chemical weapons programme, London has not missed a beat.

While Washington has refused to lift trade sanctions and boasts about “moving the goalposts”, Blair has succeeded in positioning Britain’s defence industry alongside Libya while returning Shell to the country after a 30-year absence.

This is neither a fortuitous side-effect nor a cynical attempt to make money. Blair last week deployed a carefully crafted model where business is the agent of regime change. It was peace, tailor-made for a country with 30 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

Even by Blair’s own standards of jet-set diplomacy, last week’s trip was quite extraordinary. The itinerary was itself a narrative of terrorism: Belfast, Madrid, Lisbon, Tripoli then Brussels. Each city told part of Blair’s story.

Northern Ireland showed that negotiating with terrorists can deliver a real, if tortuous, peace process. Madrid’s stunning state funeral for the 190 victims of the train bombs was a warning on terrorism which needed no political amplification.

The European Union summit in Brussels was to be the arena where Blair would hammer these lessons home to prevaricating EU leaders. Seeing the European Constitution leap from the grave was only a small stain on an otherwise flawless plan. The first step was to consult families of the 1988 PanAm bomb, which killed 270 when it exploded over Lockerbie in what a court found to be a Libyan attack. Blair dispatched ministers to consult the bereaved and ask for their blessing. When this was granted, Blair had the moral authority needed to go to Tripoli.

Next, Blair’s officials started to reinvent Gaddafi. His decision to give up banned weapons, it was argued, meant it was time for a fresh look at the man Ronald Reagan so memorably called the “mad dog of the Middle East”. “So what do we know about him?” a senior British official began in a briefing as he reeled off a revised biography quite unlike that of the Gaddafi the West had come to know.

His seizure of power in 1969 was a “revolution” rather than a coup d’etat. Britain was “encouraging the Libyan government down the path of economic reform” and found Gaddafi “very forward on the role of women in Libya” and a religious man to whom “Islam is an important influence”. The word “dictator” was absent.

This, it is hard to remember, is the man considered the Osama bin Laden of his day who probably ordered the Lockerbie bomb, certainly armed the IRA and may know who killed a policewoman shot outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984.

The path of economic reform is also a long one for a country whose quasi-Marxist economy was ranked the most repressive in Africa or the Middle East by the Heritage Foundation in its world index. Libya in 2004, it says, is worse than Zimbabwe.

Back in London, some of Blair’s closest aides privately acknowledged the dilemma. “We know the problems surrounding this trip,” one told Scotland on Sunday. “But these things don’t just happen overnight.

“People forget Gaddafi condemned the [IRA] bombing of Manchester. He also supported the Good Friday agreement.” After an embarrassed silence, he added: “Granted, we didn’t make much of a song and dance about that at the time.”

Now things are different. Gaddafi is “viscerally opposed to al-Qaeda and has given no quarter to Libya’s own fundamentalist groups – understandably seeing them as the main threat to his own regime”. What’s more, his country is rich, but has no one to trade with: Gaddafi is a man we can do business with. “We don’t want the Libyans to think we’re just flying in, then flying out,” said one official. “We’re leaving behind solid signs of our commitment.”

One such sign is Major General Robin Searby, former commanding officer of British forces in Bosnia, now appointed UK defence co-ordinator for Libya. His task is to oversee a “new military relationship” between Tripoli and London.

Advice on military strategy will come from the Ministry of Defence. Libyan soldiers will train at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England – an offer designed to resonate with Gaddafi, who himself trained with the British military in 1966.

This offer is all the more extraordinary because the last military relationship of any note between the countries was in April 1986, when American jets left British airbases to bomb Tripoli – aiming at Gaddafi’s home and killing his adopted daughter.

Britain argues that, having handed over 20 tons of mustard gas, Libya will need a new set of conventional weapons. Or, in the diplomatic language of Blair’s officials, Libya needs to “adjust to the world it finds itself in”. Enter British Aerospace (BAe). After a miserable few months, with delays and cost overruns with its Typhoon Eurofighter project, BAe has suddenly emerged in pole position to rearm Gaddafi, thanks to Blair’s negotiations.

Downing Street let slip that BAe is in “advanced negotiations” with Libya – forcing the company to admit to “civil aviation infrastructure and things like modernising airport systems”. It stressed that defence work is “not at present” on the agenda. And with good reason. Such deals remain outlawed by an EU arms embargo, which Britain wants to lift. Only then can BAe offer to modernise the fleet of dilapidated Soviet-era MiGs which were parked on the tarmac when Blair touched down in Tripoli.

BAe, which has several unsold Typhoon Eurofighters it would like to offload, would not be drawn on this obvious next step. But the link between civil aviation deals and military follow-ups is well established.

No such inhibitions face Royal Dutch/Shell, which has for years been watching Libya’s gas fields with envious eyes. “They’ve been stalking the Libyans ever since relations thawed,” said Bruce Evers, analyst at Investec Securities. Last week, Shell pounced.

Libya is especially rich in liquid natural gas (LNG) – where Shell believes the future of energy lies. Libya’s reserves amount to barely a quarter of Iraq’s, but present a much lower security risk.

“Libya’s oil wells and fields are just sitting there decrepit because they don’t have the resources anymore to exploit the oil,” said Rime Allaf, Libya analyst at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London. Indeed, Libya was until recently the only Opec member not to have an oil ministry – typical of the chaos under Gaddafi. Its quota is 1.3 million barrels a day; and at next week’s Opec meeting it will push to increase this nearer to its 1.6 million barrels a day capacity.

It now has National Oil Co, a state-owned firm which plans to offer foreign firms the right to bid on five areas for exploration. Tarek Haasa-Beck, its planning director, expects bidding this summer. By then, he is sure the Americans will have dropped their sanctions. “We will be running out of space in our hotels. Perhaps the best investment would be to build more hotels.”

The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 is due for renewal at the end of the month. But Libya remains on the US State Department’s list of terrorist sponsors – and removal from the list is not a formality.

While this political split exists, it buys a head start for British companies, watched enviously by counterparts in the US, who were pumping 850,000 barrels of crude a day out of Libya before Reagan’s 1986 embargo froze their assets.

There are signs that America is making things happen. Two days before Blair’s visit, William Burns, US assistant secretary of state, became the highest-level official to visit Libya in more than 30 years.

Americans are now allowed to visit Libya, but a blanket import and export ban remains in place. This leaves all the more breathing space for the UK government’s trade delegation next month.

Perhaps even more significant than any economic progress is the prospect that the developments will have a momentous impact on the Middle East. After the announcement that Libya had agreed to give up its illegal weapons, Scotland on Sunday revealed the British government was already in talks with other “pariah states” in a bid to win a similar breakthrough. Downing Street sources admitted that discussions with Syria and Iran were continuing.

Eric Stanley, an expert on Middle East affairs, said the rewards were economic as well as political, and potentially enormous. “The way the Libya situation has opened up so quickly has been remarkable, and it shows that there was an appetite on both sides for big changes,” he said. “It is to be hoped that this can be repeated across the Middle East, not least because bringing other powerful voices in from the cold will stabilise the region and make it easier to progress the road map for peace.

“But it is not a simple process. States like Syria might see the Libya example as a path to follow, but all these states have different issues. There will be a domino effect, but it will take some time. Trade is an important driver in all of this.”

Rumours abound about Gaddafi’s health. Some reports from the area say the 62-year-old was diagnosed with terminal throat cancer two years ago.

No 10 is keenly aware that succession in military dictatorships is not clear-cut: “We are not placing all our chips on Gaddafi.”

Or as another official put it: “Politics brings countries close, but trade brings them closer. We want both politics and trade to work in Libya.” The classic libertarian argument – free trade stops wars – is being used for regime change.

There are also basic human rights conditions for Britain selling arms to any country: if Gaddafi does want to buy from BAe, he will have to change his regime accordingly. In this way, it is argued, guns can also be a force for good.

The next step is for Libya to join the so-called Barcelona Process, an EU initiative aimed at abolishing trade barriers with 12 states along the Mediterranean. To do this, Libya needs to recognise Israel.

After the tent talks, Britain believes Gaddafi may well agree. “Libya has indicated that it will accept,” said a UK official. So Downing Street aides were euphoric on Thursday night as they returned to Brussels. All pitfalls had been avoided: Gaddafi turned up, none of his officials disputed guilt over Lockerbie and they had taken care to denounce al-Qaeda.

When Blair walked into the EU ministers’ meeting, explained one No 10 official, his fellow leaders were queuing up to ask how the Libya meeting had gone that morning and whether it is safe to let Gaddafi, the dictator, in from the cold.

As a prime minister who is increasingly behaving as if the history books are his prime audience, Blair must now hope Gaddafi repays the trust placed in him.


THE reinvention of Colonel Gaddafi and the removal of Saddam Hussein are two significant steps in addressing the historic instability in the Middle East. But Tony Blair knows he still has much more to do.

SYRIA: President Assad has already responded to the changed atmosphere, and the persistent rumours that his nation is a possible target for American action in the future, by launching a diplomatic offensive on Turkey and the European Union. But further progress into the international community will only come about if he caves in to demands for him to follow Libya’s lead, submit to weapons inspections and, if necessary, disarm.

IRAN: Another pariah state that featured on President Bush’s “Axis of Evil”, Iran has also moved quickly to improve its relations with the West. In line with Libya’s renouncement of WMD, Iran has also allowed tougher inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and accepted American humanitarian assistance after the earthquake in Bam.

ISRAEL: Hostility towards Israel is a fundamental reason for international suspicion of the likes of Syria and Iran, but the EU and, to a lesser extent, the Americans remain concerned about Tel Aviv’s commitment to the peace process. Both Washington and Brussels defend Israel’s right to exist, but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has increasingly been identified as an obstacle to the road map to peace in the region.

  • Last Updated: 28 March 2004 2:10 AM
  • Source: Scotland On Sunday

Shell secures Libya deal during Blair’s visit

afrol News, 26 March – The oil multinational Royal Dutch/Shell has signed an agreement to re-enter the oil and gas industry of Libya at an estimated values of almost US$ 1 billion. The Anglo-Dutch oil giant announced the deal as British Prime Minister made a historic visit to Libya yesterday.

Shell in a press statement announced has announced a “landmark heads of agreement” for the establishment of “a long term strategic partnership in the Libyan upstream oil and gas industry.” Analysts hold the cooperation deal between Shell and Libya’s National Oil Corporation is worth up to US$ 1 billion.

According to Shell, the agreement comprises the preliminary understanding of the parties regarding key principles for participation by Shell in the Libyan upstream, including onshore exploration, and the development of liquefied natural gas facilities. The deal further could lead to the development of world-class integrated upstream and liquefied natural gas export projects, the Shell statement said.

Shell was active in the Libyan oil industry from the 1950s until 1974, and conducted exploration in the country in the late 1980s. With the rupture of British-Libyan diplomatic relations and international sanctions against Libya following several terrorist attacks in Europe attributed to Tripoli, Shell ceased its operations in Libya.

Also the Shell communiqué refers to the new deal coinciding with the visit of UK Prime Minister Blair, to meet with the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Mr Blair’s visit symbolises the reestablishment of normal diplomatic ties between Britain and Libya and has also served as a door-opener for British companies wanting to invest in Libya. Shell is to become the by far largest single investor until now.

The Libya visit of Prime Minister Blair, combined with the warm welcome he received and the friendly tone between the two leaders, has caused strong negative reactions in London, where the visit is seen as premature. The British conservative opposition said visit had a “quite odd timing” as Mr Blair was travelling from the memorial service commemorating the Madrid terrorism victims; to his Tripoli meeting; and from there to an EU summit in Brussels on terrorism.

The British are however far from the first European nation to completely normalise diplomatic and economic relations with Libya. Both the Heads of Government of Spain and Italy recently have visited Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli. International oil companies already present in Libya include Eni of Italy, Repsol of Spain and Greek, Austrian and Australian companies.

Shell will however become the largest European player in Libya, as the stakes are now. The newly signed agreement will also boost the British-Libyan trade link. Malcolm Brinded of Shell in a statement yesterday confirmed he looked forward “to our cooperation becoming a cornerstone in a renewed trade relationship between the UK and Libya.”

Shell was in a hurry to complete a favourable deal with Libya before the US government lifts its trade sanctions on Libya. US oil companies are believed to gain a major role in the Libyan oil and gas industry, in particular in the production of crude oil. While US sanctions are still in place, Washington has given US companies a green light to start negotiating future Libyan deals and the first US oil company, Occidental, is already present in Libya.

Libya urgently needs foreign investments and technology to develop its oil and gas industry, which has stagnated since the imposition of sanctions. The country in particular has a large unexploited potential in technology demanding offshore oil and gas production.

While the US demand is greatest in oil products, Libya can count on a growing European gas market. Most of continental Europe and Britain is connected in a gas network, which is emerging the main household energy source in many countries. This market was still relatively small as the sanctions were imposed and Libya’s gas industry is therefore underdeveloped.

The timing is also good for the British government and for Shell. Britain needs to find more gas suppliers in the region as its own North Sea reserves are drying up. Shell also needed a good Libyan deal to step out of the crises that have plagued the company lately, including a sudden depreciation of its oil and gas stocks and irregularities in company accounts.

By staff writer

© afrol News

The Independent

Shell first off blocks in race to cash in on UK’s new friendship

By Ben Russell in Tripoli and Saeed Shah
Friday, 26 March 2004

Shell signed a deal with Libya yesterday which could open up billions of pounds worth of natural gas reserves as British firms began a rush to develop commercial opportunities in the former pariah state.

Shell signed a deal with Libya yesterday which could open up billions of pounds worth of natural gas reserves as British firms began a rush to develop commercial opportunities in the former pariah state.

Under the agreement, the Anglo-Dutch energy giant will search the Libyan desert for oil and gas over the next seven years. Shell executives have spent three years negotiating the deal to explore inland fuel reserves and redevelop the country’s facilities to produce liquid natural gas.

The deal heralds a potentially major development in trade between the two countries.

BAE Systems, the defence and civil aviation giant, is currently negotiating to provide civil airport services, while other British companies are thought to be anxious to exploit thawing relations between London and Tripoli.

Mike O’Brien, the Foreign Office and Trade minister, will lead a delegation of British business leaders to the Libyan capital next month.

The British Government said it saw “potential” for UK business in Libya across a number of sectors including oil and gas, airports, ports and logistics, education and training, healthcare and tourism.

Malcolm Brinded, head of exploration and production at Shell, said the deal with Colonel Gaddafi’s regime was potentially highly significant for the country’s future prospects.

He said: “Libya has the chance of being a top 20 country, I would put it that way.”

Mr Brinded welcomed the improving relations saying: “It just gives everybody confidence on both sides, as political relationships improve the climate for improving trade and commercial relationships goes hand in hand.

He continued: “One should stress this is an exploration programme and there is always a significant risk that it doesn’t lead anywhere. If successful I would expect it to be a multibillion-dollar investment and I would expect there to be the potential in this place.

“We were in Libya in the Fifties and we were in Libya in the Eighties for an exploration programme, but for this one we came back in 2001 and so this is the culmination of discussions over that.”

Libya could rapidly become more important as a trading partner for Britain. Exports to Libya in 2003 amounted to £241m, making it Britain’s 58th most significant foreign market. Imports to the UK from Libya last year were worth £202m.

There are extensive gas reserves in Libya and even bigger known oil deposits – it has the eight largest oil reserves in the world, even though exploration in the country has been hampered for the last 20 years by lack of Western investment and technological know-how.

BAE said it was negotiating a deal with the Libyans for airport and air traffic infrastructure work, to modernise the country’s outdated civil air travel facilities.

The deal, when signed, would cover everything from helping to manage the country’s air traffic control to providing specialist equipment to the fire crew at Libya’s airports.

In time, the relationship could extend to selling Libya commercial aircraft or leasing civil planes, said Richard Coltart, a BAE spokesman. He added that talks had been going on for a “some years”. Mr Coltart insisted that the agreement would not cover military equipment or expertise. “This is civil. Defence matters are not under discussion,” he said.

From The Times
May 4, 2005

Shell plans to pump £340m into Libya for gas exports

By Carl Mortished, International Business Editor

SHELL has secured a foothold in the development of a Libyan gas export industry, agreeing to invest up to $637 million (£337 million) in the country that a year ago emerged from pariah status when its leader, Colonel Gaddafi, renounced weapons of mass destruction.

Shell has agreed to rejuvenate and upgrade a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on the Libyan coast in a deal that also gives the company the right to explore for gas in an area covering 20,000 square kilometres of the Sirte Basin, a major oil and gas producing region.

The Anglo-Dutch oil company claimed yesterday to be the first foreign oil company to re-enter Libya since international sanctions were imposed after the bombing of a PanAm airliner over Lockerbie in 1988. Malcolm Brinded, Shell’s head of exploration, said that he was excited about the deal: “Libya’s integrated gas industry has enormous potential, based on its large gas resources and favourable geographic location.”

Yesterday’s deal emerged after negotiations that followed the visit by Tony Blair to Tripoli in March last year, where he met Colonel Gaddafi and Shell revealed that it was in talks with Libya’s National Oil Corporation.

Several US companies, including Occidental Petroleum, have since won oil production rights in a competitive licensing round in which no European firm was successful. Industry experts said the US bids conceded much of the profits to the Libyan partners.

Shell said that the LNG project would strengthen its supply position in the Atlantic basin LNG market. The company would not reveal its share of the LNG to be produced by the Marsa Al-Brega plant, which Shell will upgrade, increasing its output from 0.7 million tonnes to 3.2 million tonnes a year.

Shell will initially invest $105 million, rising to $450 million, in the plant and it has the option to build a second plant, subject to finding sufficient gas.

The Libyan gas deal will heat up competition to supply LNG to markets in Western Europe and the US where high gas prices have recently encouraged investment in massive schemes.

*Energy companies and oil-producing nations must invest more in expanding capacity, according to the International Energy Agency. The energy watchdog said investment in oil and gas production, refining, power generation and transmission was too low to meet expected growth in demand.


1977: Colonel Gaddafi declares “people’s revolution”.

1984: WPC Yvonne Fletcher killed outside Libyan Embassy, London, sparking breakdown in UK-Libyan relations.

1988: PanAm flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, killing 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground.

1991: US accuses two Libyan intelligence officers of Lockerbie bombing. UN imposes sanctions on Libya.

1999: Two suspects handed over for trial; UN sanctions suspended; relations between UK and Libya restored.

2003: Libya admits Lockerbie responsibility and signs $2.7 billion restitution deal for victims. UN lifts sanctions. Libya abandons weapons of mass destruction programme.

2004: Tony Blair meets Colonel Gaddafi in Libya.

2005: Libyan auction of oil and gas exploration licences.

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